No company has dominated the cinephile DVD boutique label field quite like The Criterion Collection. While they can’t have everything — there are rights issues, and some studios would rather hold on to their own wares — they’re pretty damn close. But if there were ever holes in the Criterion Collection, they’ve been doing a fantastic job of plugging them up of late. The Apu Trilogy collection finally came to the collection last year, the first of many Wim Wenders releases are starting to roll out now, and for modern tastes, they’ve filled the gap in Whit Stillman’s hilarious comedy of manners trilogy (now we just need “The Conversation” and “Il Conformista” on Criterion and we might be settled for a while).
Criterion unveiled its April releases and one of the most exciting titles to hit the collection is Stillman’s outstandingly droll 1994 comedy “Barcelona.” While Stillman, and to a lesser degree Noah Baumbach, cornered the market on Chris Eigeman playing arrogant, entitled rich-brat jackasses, no film quite captures the endearingly stupid and acidic nature of this character quite like “Barcelona” (for my money, still one of the best movies released that year). What’s more, Criterion, who has already released Stillman’s similarly pitched “Metropolitan” and “The Last Days Of Disco,” is bundling all three titles into a box set trilogy simply titled “A Whit Stillman Trilogy.”
The extras are great too, including rare outtakes, commentary tracks, Stillman on the Dick Cavett show in 1991, and an audio recording of the director reading a chapter from his book, “The Last Days of Disco, with Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards.”
Also coming to Criterion in April is a upgraded, updated Blu-ray version of David Lean‘s “Brief Encounter,” perfectly timed considering all the ink that Todd Haynes gave it as an influence on his Oscar-nominated “Carol”; four of Robert Drew‘s documentaries bundled into “The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates” (including “Primary,” “Adventures on the New Frontier,” “Crisis,” and “Faces of November”); and Howard Hawks’ classic, “Only Angels Have Wings,” starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth.
Additionally, Criterion will release the first title from acclaimed German filmmaker Christian Petzold, his terrific 2015 post-WWII movie, “Phoenix.” The drama is haunting and landed on many of our best-of-2015 lists, and that’s really enough, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the striking DVD artwork by Nessim Higson. It’s gorgeous and probably an early contender for best looking Criterion cover of 2016. Save up those pennies now, April is yet another terrific month for cinephiles everywhere.